Transference is perceiving and reacting to another person as if they are the mother or father of our childhood. Usually we are not aware that we are doing it. We believe we are seeing the other person in the present moment. When we are in transference with another person, we often feel certain that we know what they are feeling and thinking, what their intentions are, and what we can and can't expect from them. As a result, transference distorts relationships.
When we are in positive transference with another person, we often idealize their positive qualities and we might even believe that they are capable of giving us all the attention and love we always wanted. We experience this when we fall in love, and often we can cite the moment it happens. That other person seems to have and be everything we want tand need. We feel certain tat we know or understand that we see the real person, who they are, what they are feeling and thinking, what their intentions are, and what we can and can't expect from them.
Often, we experience feeling seen and known by them, and we are honored and delighted to be in their presence. We cannot listen to comments of others about this person unless they echo our own perspective. We may event distance ourselves from friends who mention any flaws. In positive transference, we experience the other person as powerful, not as good or important.
When we are in negative transference (a very common occurrence), we feel certain about the other person's "wrongness." At times, the transference is triggered in us by an actual behavior of the other person. They don't look us in the eye, or they do-they criticize our work, they try to help us-they are sarcastic or late or forget to do something. Many times the transference is triggered in us only by the perception that they did or said something, and our interpretation of what that means. We feel the other person has done a wrong to us. The initial trigger sets our patterns in motion. We think we know all about them, what they did, what they will do, think and feel. We experience them as powerful-we have given them the power to affect our lives-and we feel powerless. In negative transference, we often feel small, like a child in the face of a negative parent. That's where we went internally, even if we do not recognize if consciously.
We have all experienced going into transference with lovers, spouses, friends, family members, therapists or bosses. It happens all the time. We even transfer the parents of our childhood onto the parents of our adulthood, and we think we know what's going on. As quickly as we pop into transference, we can also pop right out of transference. We fall in love, the other person is perfect and up on a pedestal and we are so lucky; times goes on, and suddenly they are completely off the pedestal and lying beneath it. We ask how we could have been so deceived. Or we go into negative transference with our lover or spouse and travel the vicious cycle until an exit point-they bring us flowers cook our favorite meal, apologize and ask for forgiveness-and things are all right again. we can easily forget about it.
Transference can be a profound learning opportunity in relationship. In transference, we are triggered into our own patterns. The other person may or may not have done something. Our perceptions and reactions-our patterns-are what draw us into a vicious cycle and keep us there. Actually, we do have the power-if we choose to use it-to disconnect from the patterns and change the dynamic. The actions of others trigger us because we have the patterns in us. Identifying our patterns and disconnecting from them enables us to take back our power regardless of what they other person is or isn't doing. By doing this we can transform relationships. (Hoffman Institute 2019)
Trauma, which includes neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse, happens at extremely high rates. Trauma is categorized as a major health problem across the world. Exposure to trauma at a young age increases an individual’s risk in adulthood to develop a psychiatric disorder. Research has shown that adolescents who have been victims of trauma are three times more likely to have had past or current issues with alcoholism and or addiction. This occurs due to the desire to self medicate over dysregulated emotional and biological distress. An individual living with trauma often has an internal emotional experience of fear and dread that is met with lack of control and an extreme sense of isolation. This is the result of chronic neglect, molestation, incest, abuse, abandonment, and violence. An individual internal distress becomes so much to bear that relief is sought through a substance. Substances can range from food, to alcohol and drugs as well as self mutilation. Self destructiveness is an act of self preservation. Without the destructive coping skill the mind is terrified that it will not survive the emotional torture it has been over taken by.
The treatment of addiction in correlation with trauma has high success rates when the individual seeking treatment is able to break through denial of the internal war that is standing in the way of a healthier life. Awareness, Acceptance and Action are the key ingredients to successful healing of internal struggles. Sarasota Addiction Specialists have staff who have been trained and specialize in the treatment of trauma and addiction.
By Dr. Kimberly Benson
Sarasota Addiction Specialists specialize in the treatment and recovery of Alcoholism. Alcoholism is still the leading cause of most substance use disorders today. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 19.7 million American Adults were suffering from a substance use disorder. Of that 19.7 million over 74 percent of adults were suffering from alcoholism.
How do you identify if you or someone you love is suffering from alcoholism? First you must understand what the term alcoholism — clinically known as Alcohol Use Disorder — means. Alcoholism is a chronic disease in which an individual displays the inability to control their drinking. There is a prominent preoccupation, obsession and compulsion around the use of alcohol. Often, an alcoholics reaction to the consumption of alcohol can be seen as predictably unpredictable. Alcoholism exists in the impoverished, middle, and upper classes — it does not discriminate. The number one pitfall in diagnosis is the “idea” of an old stereotype of what an alcoholic is. Today an alcoholic can be anyone from a homeless individual drinking daily on the street, to the wealthiest CEO over-drinking during long lunches, to a someone retired drinking through quality time with grandchildren. Alcoholism is all about what is occurring in the mind and then the impact consumption has on the individual, both mentally and physically.
The biggest barrier in seeking treatment for alcoholism is what is at the root of the disease: denial. Denial must be broken in order for recovery to take hold. Denial does not have to be completely broken in order to begin the treatment process. Fear of how to cope is what can keep someone locked in the vicious cycle of alcoholism.
Some symptoms of Alcoholism include blackouts, cravings, shakiness, sweating, legal problems, aggression, compulsive behavior, obsession, lack of restraint, self-destructive behavior, agitation, depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, loneliness, suicidal ideation, carelessness, drinking and driving, isolation, drinking throughout the day, binge drinking, delirium, fear, psychosis, financial issues, family problems, work related issues and relationship problems.
Sarasota Addiction Specialists offer private care to men, women and families suffering from alcoholism. You can end the battle and find freedom from alcoholism. Sarasota Addiction Specialists offers a highly regarded Intensive Outpatient Program, or we can assist you in putting together a tailored treatment plan that is right for you and allows you to maintain your current lifestyle. Our goal is to help you break the chains of alcoholism and attain psychological freedom and pave a pathway to healthier you.
Dr. Kimberly S. Benson LMHC